Souvenirs to buy in Uzbekistan are so extraordinary that they will keep reminding you of this lovely nation each time you adore them. I travelled solo to the beautiful Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan recently and haven’t ever stopped thinking about its artists, craftsmen or bazaars (markets).
Do you love to shop from medieval looking Bazaars like I do? If yes, you will go gaga over the souvenirs that you can shop in Uzbekistan’s many colourful markets. Every city here has at least one main Bazaar to buy beautiful and long lasting souvenirs.
Uzbekistan has some of the finest items that you can take back home as souvenirs for yourself as well as for friends and family. Let me not waste any more time and introduce you to all the wonderful things you can buy in this lovely country.
19 Souvenirs to Buy in Uzbekistan | Rare & Extraordinary
If I could go on shopping till I literally dropped in Uzbekistan, I would buy so many things. But the fact that I couldn’t possibly carry so much stuff back home, I stopped at a few. However, there are some unique items that surely stand out and are quite rare. So I would love to share my list of Uzbek lovables with you.
|6.Camel Wool Socks|
|9. Suzani work items|
|10. Blue Crockery|
|13. Ceramic Pottery|
|16. Silk Carpets|
|17. Uzbek Rugs|
|18. Copper Plates|
|19. Crochet Pouches and Caps|
Doppa is the traditional Uzbek cap. It is also known as the Tubeteika. Many locals wear one and it’s available at every second shop ranging between $1-5 or more for some, depending from where you buy it. I got mine, a lovely colourful one on my solo trip, from a lady selling Doppas in Bukhara.
Karakul is essentially the lamb fleece from which woollens are made in Uzbekistan. The garments are woven from the pelts of karakul lambs. The city of Bukhara is the origin place of the Karakul fur. In fact, you should surely visit the Karakul Lider factory in Bukhara as a traveller. The garments made from Karakul wool are extremely expensive.
Travel and bread go hand in hand in Uzbekistan. And so during your time in this beautiful country, you are bound to come across bread that is round in shape. Now the unique thing about this bread is the pattern or designs carved deep into it. This pattern exists because of something called the Bread Stamp. Buy one for about $6 to make your own unique designs back home.
Bread is sacred in Uzbekistan and makes for a unique dish on the list of best food items in the country.
Bukhara is the city where all the Ikat scarves in Uzbekistan comes from as a fashion item. It is hand woven on narrow looms so the width of the fabric is of fixed dimensions. Available in cotton, silk and a blend of both, I would definitely recommend to pick up nice scarves to carry back home. It comes in cheerful colours and is available for a price of $4-20.
Kashgar Boldak are special ear rings crafted in Uzbekistan. As a traveller, the designs and artistry of these special ear rings will impress you immensely. This holds true especially for the cities of Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara. If you’re a female traveller, you have got to buy at least one pair of these pretty ear rings.
Mulberry paper has been used traditionally by calligraphers for texts, artists for miniature paintings, and bookbinders for books. This paper is so valuable to the Uzbeks that some of the documents crafted with it have been preserved for centuries. What better can you think of when it comes to souvenirs to buy in Uzbekistan?
7.Camel Wool Socks
Socks woven from camel wool are popular in Uzbekistan. If you happen to live in a country that witnesses harsh winters, make sure to grab a pair of these very pretty and unique socks. They’re easily available across cities in Uzbekistan. By the way, a lot of male knitters exist behind these socks.
Paintings are made and sold at several shops. There are paintings depicting the various scenes or monuments of the cities of Uzbekistan. You would find artists sitting in their shops painting simultaneously. Miniature paintings are very neat and priced a little higher than the rest.
9.Suzani work items
Suzani is an embroidered tribal textile manufactured in a lot of Central Asian countries. Uzbekistan is one of them. I would suggest an item with Suzani work to be taken back as a souvenir from Uzbekistan. You have a whole lot to choose from – bedspreads, cushion covers, runners, mats and much more.
You would need to bargain hard. I would personally pay less than half of what they quote first. The price will vary depending on the city you shop from as a traveller.
There is this very popular blue and white design crockery that you would practically see being used in all restaurants and homes. It is sold at every market in every city. And its very pretty.You could get yourself something of that at a very reasonable price. The starting price to buy this kind of crockery is about $11.
Uzbeks love their tea. In fact they even savour it along with meals. So you cannot possibly leave the country without taking a few packets of indigenous grown tea. The variety is enormous so make your pick based on your own taste.
Navat is a speciality sugar crystal that is mostly served alongside tea. It is actually a more glam substitute for simple white sugar or caramel candy. It basically comprises of condensed sugar syrup or even grape juice. In some forms, spices are added to it. You can carry a pack back home as a souvenir from Uzbekistan.
Ceramic pottery is a craft that the artisans of Central Asia are well versed in as craftsmen. However, the one country that tops this craft is Uzbekistan. You have got to see the varied forms in which ceramic pottery is sold in various cities of Uzbekistan. The best ceramic pottery is available at a town called Rishton.
This small town of Rishton has been making pottery since the last several hundred years. It has seen the pottery traditions being changed under the Muslim rulers and then the Soviet rulers. In case you’re interested to know more about the history of pottery traditions in Rishton, feel free to read this paper by Haruka Kikuta.
One of the most memorable souvenirs to buy in Uzbekistan are its traditional dolls. They are made from light fabric or papier-mache. This makes them light to carry abroad easily.
They are available across cities in Uzbekistan but pick your doll from the city of Khiva. The finest dolls are made there. Pick a pretty doll as a souvenir for $2 to $10.
As a traveller, you will easily come across very unique ceramic figurines throughout Uzbekistan. These are locally known as Babaychiki. These figurines come in beautiful shiny colours and each depicts a different expression. These are Uzbek men in various traditional costumes. You can get a ceramic figurine for around $5 to $10.
16. Silk Carpets
If you’re a serious shopper, I would highly recommend you buying a silk carpet from Uzbekistan. However, it surely will burn a hole in your pocket. The best city to buy silk carpets and rugs is Samarkand.
Although, I saw them being sold at Tashkent and Bukhara too, but my cab driver prioritised Samarkand over these two places. The cost of buying and then carrying it back home will be double or even triple the amount that you pay for a rug ($750-1000). So, yes, a silk carpet is damn expensive.
17. Uzbek Rugs
In the entire country, almost all heritage Madrassas and Mosques are being used as markets selling the local handicrafts and other touristy merchandise. Here, rugs are a very common but classy item to buy. I found the best rugs to be found in the madrassas of Tashkent. They cost anywhere between $750-$1000.
18. Copper Plates
Copper plates are really well decorated and crafted in Uzbekistan. They make for decent souvenirs to buy from Uzbekistan. However, the only issue is the price for these exquisite Copper plates.
Buy them if you really need them and are ok with the overrated prices. The shopkeepers might quote a price of $175 but in actuality you need to pay only $60.
19.Crochet Pouches and Caps
Pouches and caps made of crochet are such wonderful items to be taken back home as souvenirs. The colourful woven patterns on both the pouches and caps are quite unique to the region. The pouches are more affordable ($5) than the caps ($10-15).
Shopping in Samarkand | Pretty Souvenirs to Buy
The city is an amalgamation of the modern and medieval. Samarkand is resplendent with richness of the past. It speaks to you in a language of beauty and glory of the times gone by.
An interesting souvenir that I picked from Samarkand was a set of “Augmented Reality” postcards of all the monuments of Samarkand. This was at the Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum.
Souvenir Shopping in Tashkent | Chorsu Bazaar Chronicles
Tashkent is the biggest and the capital city of Uzbekistan. It was an important centre of trade on the Silk Route two thousand years back and is an exciting, modern city now.
The one place that I highly recommend to all travellers visiting Tashkent is Chorsu Bazaar. It is one of the most happy place for souvenirs to buy in Uzbekistan. You would love going through this old bazaar which sells everything from local “designer” breads (called Non or Lepeshka) and fruits to ceramic pottery and carpets!
In fact, you would find lanes with vendors on both sides selling bread in different shapes and sizes. I picked up a decent sized fluffy Non just for 15000 Soms ($1.57) and munched mouthfuls of it while browsing the market. The vibes that you get in Chorsu are those of the 80s or of early 90s.
The souvenirs I picked from here were Uzbek dolls, ceramic pottery, scarves and “Karakul”(lamb fleece). I would have bought more but since this was my first city in Uzbekistan, I didn’t want to carry more bags for the rest of my trip.
Khiva | The City for Best Souvenirs to Buy in Uzbekistan
Khiva is a small and most peculiar of all Uzbek cities. It lies close to the river, Amu Darya and forms an oasis sandwiched between deserts.
In its various markets, you would find a lot of souvenirs – camel wool socks, stoles, fur and karakul caps. You would find good open-air restaurants and cafes also in around the place. So if you get tired shopping, go grab a bite.
Khiva is particularly known for its fleece hats as far as shopping is concerned. Souvenir and craft shops line the streets of the Ichon-Qala and are wedged into many attractions.
The best quality is to be found in the Kutlimurodinok Medressa, which contains several handicraft workshops.
Shopping in Bukhara | Spend at least 2 days collecting Souvenirs
Bukhara is a city with a soul. An old and mellow soul. And one can only experience it by living it. You need a minimum of two full days in Bukhara to shop your heart out.
If you are walking around in the main touristy area of Bukhara, you cannot miss these trading domes. These domes with their high ceilings now house bazaars selling carpets, paintings, jewellery and other souvenirs which are good to browse through.
A few things which were common across everywhere in Uzbekistan was the oh-so-pretty white and blue crockery! I knew I had to carry some back home. This makes for a decent souvenir to take back home from Bukhara.
I picked up a couple of souvenirs – a painting depicting a scene from old Bukhara and a hand-painted chess made of solid wood, to remind me of this beautiful city when I was back home.
Then, nearby there happens to be the Kalon mosque which has a huge compound in the centre. There’s a ticket required for the Mosque. I spent about an hour and a half here. On my way out, I decided to have a look at the market outside.
Just like the other markets in the city, I could see a lot of shops selling handicrafts, especially the Suzani work (hand embroidery, done either with a needle or a hook) and Adras/Ikat. I sauntered into one such big store thinking of picking up a Suzani bedspread, samples of which were hanging outside most stores.
It seemed to be a huge family run store. A lady was working on one such piece creating a lovely pomegranate motif. The price quoted for most things was way beyond my budget and I felt it was overpriced by a big margin. We find similar Suzani work in my native place in India (Kashmir) too, however, at one third the price.
I picked up a nice dress on the very first day which I wore like a very enthusiastic tourist on the second day! Also bought Ikat silk fabric and scarves for family and friends.
If you need to shop in Bukhara, go for Ikat or Adras, as it’s called. There are scarves, shirts, jackets and dresses available almost everywhere. Or you can buy some un-stitched fabric. Adras is a speciality of Bukhara. It’s woven in silk or cotton or a blend of both on narrow looms and comes in beautiful bright colours.
One more thing which is common across the country is the traditional Uzbek cap called Tubeteika or Doppa. Many locals wear one and it’s available at every second shop ranging between USD 1-5 or more for some, depending from where you buy it. I got mine, a lovely colourful one, from a lady selling Adras and Doppas inside Chor Minor.
6 Insider Tips for Souvenir Shopping in Uzbekistan
When you travel to a new place all by yourself and stay there for long, you become bit of an insider. Hence, handy tips and hacks come to your knowledge based on your own experience.
Since I was travelling solo to Uzbekistan and made a lot of legit observations, here are my 6 insider tips for souvenir shopping in Uzbekistan.
|1. Beware of custom restrictions|
Uzbekistan has a strict law against export of any kind of antique that is more than 50 years old. Hence, buy only those souvenirs that the government will allow you to take back home.
|2.Save yourself from fake souvenirs|
Be careful about one thing. Across all markets, you would find the usual merchandise that you find elsewhere in the world and might not be a local product. You would know when you see one. Do not get conned.
|3. Bargain, Bargain and bargain|
Wherever you shop, make sure you bargain big. They keep a buffer on their prices and are pretty used to the practice. Start with 50% and then depending on your skills settle at a price you are willing to pay for the thing.
|4. Be polite to the shop owners|
Shop owners selling souvenirs in Uzbekistan are one of the kindest in the region. Not only are they humble but aren’t pushy at all. So even if you don’t buy anything from there, they still smile at you. The least you can do is smile back.
|5. Prioritise cities of Bukhara and Khiva|
Bukhara and Khiva top the charts when it comes to souvenirs to buy in Uzbekistan. Hence, if you’re in these cities, buy stuff from here itself.
|6. Don’t leave without dry fruits and tea|
In case you’re not knee deep into souvenirs, at least buy dry fruits and green tea from Uzbekistan. Don’t leave this pretty country empty handed.
A souvenir from Uzbekistan will be a lovely reminder of the memories that you had as a traveller in this beautiful country. No trip can be called complete without bringing along something nice from the place you visit. And hence, do make your pick. Buy less but buy good stuff that stays with you forever.